Technology – How Is It Improving Exporting?
Exporting is becoming increasingly diverse and agile due to the way technology is influencing and changing export behaviour and practices. Rob Lawlor, of Intercity Technology explains, “IT plays a key role in influencing people, processes and systems when it comes to trading overseas”.
Controlling Costs for Freight Forwarders
Exporting is highly competitive and the margins are tight. Controlling costs is therefore an essential task for freight forwarders. They need to be able to handle strategic business issues while remaining competitive.
Efficiency is paramount, from processing orders and moving goods to making the best effective use of shipping space.
“Order management is vital and online systems can contribute to major efficiencies in this area”, Rob states. “It’s about streamlining the payment of invoices and looking at enabling customers to monitor and track their shipments as part of the process”.
Visibility is very much in the forefront of technological change here. If they are to stay competitive and manage their costs effectively, freight forwarders require end-to-end supply chain visibility in order to always be able to track the movement of goods and keep control of costs throughout.
Advance Notice and Compliance
Being prepared is crucial for export success, and tracking through technology obviously has a massive role to play here. Freight forwarders need access to shipping schedules and any delays along the route.
“With the right order management and visibility tools, scheduling becomes more flexible”, Rob explains. “Freight forwarders can use this to negotiate improved future deals with carriers.”
Another key area where technology is changing things is over compliance. This can prove to be an enormously complex issue for exporters and supply chain professionals. There is a multiplicity of electronic declarations for freight forwarders, service providers and suppliers to complete, depending on the country of destination.
Fortunately, there is specialist software to help address the issue, and while compliance remains something of a headache, technology may yet prove to be a saving grace, with solutions for sending documentation throughout Europe via a single gateway.
“The best way technology can help exporters and freight forwarders is by being user-friendly”, Rob concludes. “It’s a case of seeking specialist help in setting things up in such a way that the interface is then accessible and easy for users to modify for how they do business. Technology is there to help, not hinder, exporters”.